DOMINATING PERFORMANCE U.S. stuns Poland with 3-0 win
Carlos Bocanegra scored the U.S.'s first goal in its 3-0 win over Poland.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Krakow, Poland -- Bring on England!
Suddenly the United States men’s national team is hot in Europe, its stunning 3-0 victory over Poland Wednesday night made it back-to-back wins on European soil for the Americans for the first time
Led by Landon Donovan, who set up a pair of goals and nearly scored one of his own, the U.S. beat Poland again, this time in front of a sellout crowd of 20,000 at Wisla Stadium.
The U.S. improved to 4-13-3 in Europe since April 1999, beating Poland three times and Switzerland once. It was the United States’ largest margin of victory in Europe since a 3-0 win against Austria in 1998.
“It’s great to come back with a win in Europe,” said defender Oguchi Onyewu, who scored in back-to-back international matches. “In the past we haven’t been as good or as imposing as we would expect to be, and this past year we’ve been able to emerge as a threat to teams. In the past, people would have jumped to play us, but I think each time here we’re making a name for ourselves. We’re learning how to win and this was a good milestone for us.”
The last meeting between the United States and Poland was played in blizzard conditions in Kaiserslautern, Germany – a World Cup tune-up for both, with Clint Dempsey scoring the lone goal for the Americans in a 1-0 victory in May 2006.
“I thought it was a great team effort tonight,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said after the match. “Obviously we took advantage of set pieces, which is always a positive. More importantly, we showed the mentality and discipline necessary to win games on the road against good opponents like Poland. I thought the crowd tonight was fantastic. It was a special atmosphere, one that our players really appreciated.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. scored all three of its goals off set pieces, including a 12th minute free kick by Donovan from the far touchline. Fulham defender Carlos Bocanegra headed in the perfectly placed cross inside the near post from the top of the six-yard box for his ninth career goal to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
“I haven’t hit a set piece in awhile being in L.A., so I took some time yesterday in practice to work on it,” Donovan said. “We got guys in good spots tonight, and between [Onyewu, Bocanegra, and Ching], chances are if you put the ball in the right place they’ll be able to get to it.”
Along with Donovan, who earned his 99th career cap, and Dynamo teammate Ricardo Clark, Brian Ching was the only other MLS player selected by Bob Bradley and the big Hawaiian nearly doubled the Americans’ lead four minutes later, but Poland goalkeeper Artur Boruc saved his header off a cross from Steve Cherundolo, a defender at Hannover 96.
Poland, a side that is ranked No. 24 in the world by FIFA and beat Portugal en route to advancing to the European Championship this summer, had a pair of chances near the half hour mark. But Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard saved Jacek Krzynowek’s low shot from the top of the 18-yard box and three minutes later dived to his left to push away Dariusz Dudka’s attempt for a corner kick.
Donovan again provided the service on the second U.S. goal, his corner kick found the head of Onyewu and the Standard de Liege defender’s low header eluded Boruc in the 35th minute.
“Defenders are always hungry [on set pieces] to score goals and get on the scoresheet,” Bradley said. “I thought Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu set the tone for the team in those set pieces.”
Eddie Johnson nearly made it a 3-0 halftime lead, but the Fulham striker’s attempt to capitalize off a Polish defensive miscue resulted in another corner kick, one of six for the U.S. in the first half.
After breaking free from Grzegorz Bronowicki’s grasp at midfield, Donovan ran free toward goal and should have made it 3-0, but his shot from just inside the 18-yard box rolled wide of the far post four minutes into the second half.
Seconds after West Ham United midfielder Jonathan Spector came on for Cherundolo, Lewis scored the American’s final goal, bending a left-footed 24-yard free kick over Poland’s five-man wall and tucking it inside the near post on 73 minutes.
“In general we haven't be the best in Europe, but over the last year or two we’ve certainly gotten better,” Lewis said. “To beat a team that is in the European Championship and having qualified so soundly is definitely huge. For everyone to be involved and get a result like that is great.”
The U.S. will take a two-game European winning streak to London when they face England at Wembley Stadium on May 26 and play Spain at the Estadio El Sardinero in Santander on June 4.
“It’s huge to get that result in Europe, and now there’s a little bit of confidence that comes every time we play here,” Donovan said. “We may not win every time, but if we perform like we did tonight we'll always have a chance.”